The Question About Sneaker Collaborations


What do you do when you want to know more about a subject? You get some help from the pros. Enter Tyler Blake, not that he really needs an introduction He’s a well-known sneaker enthusiast with an insane YouTube channel, he helped build and run, worked with Saucony Originals on strategic marketing, and at age 20, took over the Putnam Club to create the New England SneakerSocial at Gillette Stadium. Pretty cool, right?

Guest Post: Tyler Blake


Extra Butter x Saucony Shadow Master “Space Snack”

Extra Butter x Saucony Shadow Master “Space Snack”

 Collaborating is often seen as one of the most effective ways to grow and build an audience for your brand. Traditionally the thought process behind collaborating is that your brand’s following will “cross-pollinate” with the following of the brand you are working with, and in turn you gain new fans or customers. Collaborations happen across various industries, and though they are generally seen as positive occurrences, it is key to measure the cohesiveness of value propositions to make sure that the collaboration makes sense.

In the sneaker industry, the number of collaborations among brands is arguably at an all time high, and while they certainly are exciting for consumers, it’s important to recognize who is benefiting most from the collaborative relationships, and if the collaboration is hurting the core brand identity or mission.

Most recently, we’ve seen Nike team up with some heavy hitting designers in the high-fashion realm. Working with Pigalle and Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, Nike created several premium Air Force 1 iterations. Priced at a premium and released in limited quantity, at first glance it would appear as though Pigalle and Tisci are benefiting most from the collaboration. After all, few get the privilege of working with Nike on a project, and even fewer get to create an entire collection that is distributed globally.  

sneaker collabs

Images via Complex

However, Nike isn’t simply doing these brands a favor. For a company the size of Nike, encompassing every aspect of the footwear industry is not just a goal, but an attainable one. However, with a legacy of athletic footwear, Nike suffers from what is referred to as a product attribute trap. For Nike, innovation, comfort, and superior athletic performance shoes are largely what is recalled and recognized when people are cued for footwear companies. If those same people are cued for brands that create luxury footwear, Nike won’t be the first name recognized or recalled for that category.

So how can Nike escape their product attribute trap? Enter the collaboration. By placing the Nike brand next to such established retailers as Givenchy and Pigalle, they are in a sense granted access and recognition in a category they otherwise would be unable to join. More importantly, it allows Nike to then position other products in strategic outlets (The Jordan Shine in Barney’s for example) at a premium price with less resistance and more acceptance than if they attempted to enter the higher-tiered footwear market without a collaboration. More importantly, it gives them more control over their athletes in terms of representation. Rather than reaching for a pair of Balenciagas post game, Nike now can offer their athletes a premium luxury sneaker.

So who benefits more from the collaboration? For this case, I would argue Nike benefits greatly. Not only are they gaining access and acceptance into an area of the footwear industry they’ve left largely untapped, but the collaborations also net them a profit from strictly the sales alone. Do you agree? Which companies have the most to gain from collaborations in the footwear industry?

Peter Pilotto for Target

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While I normally do not write about designer/Target collabs, when I saw the lookbook for Peter Pilotto for Target I had to throw something out there. Personally, I think that some collabs, like “Designer for Target” or “Designer for H&M” can be a rip off. You might be getting something that looks designer for a fraction of the price, but the quality is very low. As soon as a designer announces a new collaboration, the masses start marking their calenders and taking off of work. While I will not be doing that, I will have to pick up a piece of this collab for myself.

This collection is playful and has numerous great separates that could easily be mixed into an already existing wardrobe. The party dresses all feature unusual, but flattering, shapes with mixed prints that are begging to be worn. Pilotto did an amazing job with this collection considering that it could have gone in the complete opposite direction of chic.

Pilotto announced his collaboration with Target back in September, and the wait was well worth it. According to Huffington Post, the collection will be priced around $60 a piece, which is much better of a price point than previous collections. The collection will be for sale via Target and Net-a-Porter, making it the first collection shoppers can get internationally. Better be ready for February 9th!

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Alexander Wang X Beats by Dr. Dre

December 2013

It’s no secret that I have an undying love affair with anything and everything created by Alexander Wang. I swear by his white tanks and live in his wrap skirts. I would sleep in it if it wasn’t so expensive.

When I got word that Wang was collaborating with Beats by Dre, I may have freaked out a little bit. Okay okay…maybe more than that. The limited edition collaboration features speakers and headphones in black matte, with gold accents. WWD was the first to report about the collab, and Wang himself gave a quote, stating: “The limited-edition collection for Beats by Dr. Dre includes my favorite headphones and portable speaker,” said Wang. “For this collaboration with Beats by Dr. Dre, it felt right and a natural choice for me to give the Beats Studio headphones, Beats Pill and Urbeats earbuds a clean, minimal look with a luxe sensibility.”

Makes perfect sense to me! Wang has recently been seen hanging out with Kanye West, so he’s no stranger to the sound of music. GQ reported that The Beats Studio headphones will cost $449, the Urbeats earbuds will cost $149, and the Beats Pill speaker will cost $299.

Will you cop or drop?

Photo courtesy of WWD

Photo courtesy of WWD